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More than 100 Frankie & Benny's, Wagamama and Chiquito restaurants set to close

PUBLISHED: 14:55 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:52 04 September 2019

More than 70 Frankie & Benny's stores have been earmarked for closure. Picture: Lucy Taylor

More than 70 Frankie & Benny's stores have been earmarked for closure. Picture: Lucy Taylor

The East of England could be set to lose a host of restaurants as the owner of Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito announced it is looking to shut half of its sites.

Wagamama noodle bar at Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich. Photo: Paul Hewitt Copy:EDP Reporters  For: EDP Sunday EDP pics © 2006 (01603) 772434Wagamama noodle bar at Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich. Photo: Paul Hewitt Copy:EDP Reporters For: EDP Sunday EDP pics © 2006 (01603) 772434

The Restaurant Group, which also owns Wagamama and Coast to Coast, said it had more than 100 sites earmarked for closure already.

This includes 76 Frankie & Benny's sites which were identified earlier this year and a further 42 sites.

MORE: Cafe Rouge in Chapelfield set to close

These will not be immediate closures but will largely involve allowing leases to run out at "unattractive" current locations, the group said.

Chiquito Mexican grill at Riverside. Photo: Bill SmithChiquito Mexican grill at Riverside. Photo: Bill Smith

The Frankie & Benny's closures will potentially have the most impact in the region, as the chain has six stores.

It has three in Norfolk in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn. It also has four more in Bury St Edmunds, two in Ipswich and one in Haverhill.

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Wagamamas has two sites in Norwich's intu Chapelfield and Ipswich apiece.

Mexican chain Chiquito also has stores in Norwich and Ipswich.

Like Chiquito, Coast to Coast also has outlets in Norwich's Riverside and in Ipswich.

The closures are expected to result in around half of the Restaurant Group's sites closing, with a presentation by the chief executive stating an intention to "exit at least 50% of sites at lease expiry or break".

The news came as the group posted an £87.7 million pre-tax loss in the six months to June 30, falling from a £12.2 million profit in the previous year, as it was weighed down by impairment charges related to its leisure estate.

Debbie Hewitt, non-executive chairman of The Restaurant Group, said: "We continue to focus on improving our brand offerings and delivering the best possible experience to our customers whilst optimising our leisure business to enhance the overall group performance.

"Prevailing feeling is that uncertainty is having an impact on consumer sentiment but we believe we have a sufficiently strong set of brands.

"Regarding Brexit, the supply of food and labour are the two issues we want clarity on and are working to ensure we are as prepared as possible."

The half-year figures were the first results since the company appointed former HBOS chief Andy Hornsby as its new chief executive.

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